Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lies,damn lies and statistics - the healthcare fear mongering needs to stop!

The fact that the dems are cannibalizing each other and not pushing back on the GOP distortions is really disappointing.
Its all about a power struggle and the collective us is being thrown about like a soccer ball. The game is getting real dirty with illegal earbiting and groin kicks in the way of misinformation that has the dems running scared ,rather than pushing back.

This article enunciates my point
Bob Cesca New Media Producer
Posted: July 29, 2009 05:39 PM

Republicans Lying to Old People About Euthanasia

There appears to be a simple two-pronged strategy for killing health care reform.

One of those prongs involves, of course, delaying reform until it's too late. If it's not passed by the end of the year, there won't be the political balls to do so because of the fast approaching 2010 midterms when members of Congress will be much more focused on raising money (health care industry money) and pandering to voters.

Another reason for delaying health care reform is it gives the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats plenty of extra time to inject their special cocktail of mind-bending crazy into the discourse and make it stick, furthering both the current delay while also eroding any voter impetus to pick up the issue again after the midterms. That'd be prong number two.

Not a single dose of the aforementioned "mind-bending crazy" actually holds up when run through even the most cursory fact-checking scrutiny, and, in every statement, the obstructionists trafficking in these lies further underscore their already obvious contradictions and ideological hypocrisy.

Regarding the latter, I can't recall, for example, this degree of nipple-twisting from Republicans and Blue Dogs about spending and fiscal responsibility when the Bush administration was pitching a blank check invasion and occupation of Iraq on the heels of invading Afghanistan -- all during a recession -- while also passing a $1 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest one percent the year before.

Yet affordable, accessible health care for everyone is a bridge too far, right? (My blood pressure kicks up into the red zone whenever I hear Republicans today suggesting that they were against the Bush administration's spending habits when, in fact, they supported each program individually. After all, opposing the commander-in-chief in wartime emboldened the enemy, no? Not any more apparently since we're still at war and the heretofore "patriotic" far-right won't even admit the president is an American citizen. Consistent of them.)

Back to the mind-bending crazy. I detailed some of these attacks last week, and my friend Michael J. Elston (Washington, DC radio's "Buzz Burbank") hit some of the arguments in his new Huffington Post blog as well. But who knew they would top themselves this week with an attack so simultaneously absurd and shameless that it easily fits comfortably in the Birther/Truther wackaloon syllabus.

This is of course the notion that the president's health care reform plan includes a mandate to kill old people.

First, here's Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Cuckoo's Nest) on the House floor:

It'll make sure we bring down the cost of healthcare for all Americans, and that ensures affordable access for all Americans, and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.
And the de facto leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh:

According to Politico:

Sean Hannity believes it. So does House Minority Leader John Boehner. Talk show host Fred Thompson calls it "the dirty little secret" of the health care reform debate.
Yes, if you believe what these cranks are selling, the Obama administration is engaged in an elaborate plot to rid the nation of its burdensome population of old people. All this fluff about a public option, all the debate about reducing costs and making health insurance more affordable is merely subterfuge in the White House's scheme to impose a final solution to the nation's obvious elderly problem.

Seriously, this is a legitimate argument being used in mainstream Republican circles right now. This is an idea being circulated by the same party that Max Baucus, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh and Mary Landrieu want to negotiate with and capitulate to, all in the name of their fetishistic obsession with bipartisanship porn.

How many more examples of GOP insanity must we enumerate before the aforementioned Democrats stop taking seriously the nincompoopery on the right? Is there no level of ridiculousness too intolerable before enough is enough? At what point does Harry Reid finally overcome his low-T, call bullshit on these jokers and figuratively pummel their soft skulls using a sledgehammer with the number 60 burnished into the handle? Soon, I hope.

The reality:

House bill that would provide Medicare coverage for an end-of-life consultation once every five years. If a person falls ill with a life-threatening disease, more frequent sessions would be allowed.
Put another way, the bill would actually provide an additional and very optional benefit for senior citizens to consult with their doctors about end-of-life decisions -- decisions we'll all have to make. It's a consultation which is usually an out of pocket expense for the elderly, but now it'll be covered under Medicare. Again, it's an optional benefit for Medicare recipients to meet with their doctor. I repeat: optional benefit. Optional, as in "choice." Benefit, as in something "good" or "helpful." O-p-t-i-o-n-a-l. B-e-n-e-f-i-t.


"This measure would not only help people make the best decisions for themselves but also better ensure that their wishes are followed," AARP Executive Vice President John Rother said in a statement. "To suggest otherwise is a gross, and even cruel, distortion -- especially for any family that has been forced to make the difficult decisions on care for loved ones approaching the end of their lives."
Why do the old-people-haters at the AARP want to kill old people?

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, House minority leader John Boehner and most other congressional Republicans are taking this wingnut conspiratorial position outlined by Rush Limbaugh. Because naturally they're a very serious political party -- so much so that the Blue Dog Democrats want to work with them rather than laughing them off the floor. Oh the relationships $1.3 million-a-day in healthcare industry lobbying can buy.

And they're getting away with it because, despite their utter lack of seriousness, they continue to be granted untold latitude and legitimacy through this inexplicable Democratic bipartisanship deference (not to mention a wide berth from the establishment press), while peddling an obvious lie. And then, next week, there will be another one. And another one. Until healthcare reform is dead in the water.
The DAVISReport

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What if we were people of color?

So a few months ago my husband and I came across a distressed,possibly injured, greyhound dog stumbling down the middle of a busy road. We got behind it and followed it into a side street. Not having our cell phones with us, I went up to a door with a porch light on (thought it would be less threatening than if my husband went) and asked the woman(she would not open the door and as it turns not the best house to have chosen),to call the police as there was an animal in distress that was threatening to cause an accident. Five minutes later three cop cars roll up from two different directions. I left the porch, to speak to the responding officer nearest me and my husband stepped out of our Camry. The officer nearest my husband approached him and stated loudly "stay right there,don't move".
Turns out the woman had called 911 and said there was a woman trying to enter her house and she was in danger. No mention of the dog, even though she had said
"I don't do dogs" when I explained why I was at her door?
After minutes of confusion and explaining about the dog,the officers softened in their response and we were no longer explaining we had done nothing wrong.
The officers never looked at our ID, and the officer who had been aggressive with my husband nicely stated " I'm sorry I came on so strongly, but the call we got made us believe we were responding to a crime in progress with no mention of an injured dog". It ended cordially, and we left with the police following up with animal control.
Yes, we had been the recipients of a misinformation police call. And yes though of similar age to Professor Gates and socioeconomic background, we are of caucasion descent. And yes I believe if we had been people of color, we may well have been sorting it out down at the station, providing ID, etc and experiencing the saying "that no good deed goes unpunished".
Upon discussing Professor Gate's situation bounced up against my own, with The Central Virginia Progressive's guest blogger, Mr. Robert House I received the following to share with you:
What the "whole connected world" now knows, the renowned Professor Henry Louis Gates, of Harvard Univ. was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass. It is reported that Prof. Gates felt that he was being disrespected in his home by the police officer who was there responding to a possible "break in". Prof. Gates "spoke up" with indignation to the police; (is it because I'm black) and was arrested for "loudmouth and tumultuous behavior". There is an "unwritten law" in America that was instilled in me as a child (I'm 72) for my protection and survival: "There is no law, or rights that a negro has that a white person must respect". I can recall my gran'ma telling me that the "graveyard is full of you black boys and men who were right .....dead right". It can be argued that Prof. Gates was lucky not to be one of those unknown, young black men.
To conclude,I was standing on someone else's front porch and it resolved cordially.
Prof Gates was on his own front porch and his encounter ended in arrest. Which brings me back to the core issue,exploring how similar situations yielded such different outcomes.
Aside from disecting the behavior of the officers in our comparative tale and how training or cultural expectations may have affected their handling of the situation consider:
Professor Gates's cultural expectation was that he was being treated as a potential criminal in his own home b/c he was a black man in a high end neighborhood. A defensive and yes angry response ensued.
My response of complete surprise,on the other hand, showed my lack of expectation I could ever be mistaken for a criminal.
Which brings us back to Mr. House's mother's caution:
There is no law, or rights that a negro has that a white person must respect".
your thoughts?...

The DAVISReport

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thank you Mr. Potter

The health clinic Wendell Potter refers to is the rural clinic in Wise County that Richmond providers bring to Wise County every summer. As someone who works in indigent care in Virginia and is a member of the California Nurse's Association as a national member I applaud Mr. Potter's voice.
full video at Bill Moyers journal
The DAVISReport
Last month, testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by a former health insurance insider named Wendell Potter made news even before it occurred: CBS NEWS headlined: "Cigna Whistleblower to Testify." After Potter's testimony the industry scrambled to do damage control: "Insurers defend rescissions, take heat for lack of transparency."

In his first television interview since leaving the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter tells Bill Moyers why he left his successful career as the head of Public Relations for CIGNA, one of the nation's largest insurers, and decided to speak out against the industry. "I didn't intend to [speak out], until it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they've used over the years, and particularly back in the early '90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan."

Potter began his trip from health care spokesperson to reform advocate while back home in Tennessee. Potter attended a "health care expedition," a makeshift health clinic set up at a fairgrounds, and he tells Bill Moyers, "It was absolutely stunning. When I walked through the fairground gates, I saw hundreds of people lined up, in the rain. It was raining that day. Lined up, waiting to get care, in animal stalls. Animal stalls."

Looking back over his long career, Potter sees an industry corrupted by Wall Street expectations and greed. According to Potter, insurers have every incentive to deny coverage — every dollar they don't pay out to a claim is a dollar they can add to their profits, and Wall Street investors demand they pay out less every year. Under these conditions, Potter says, "You don't think about individual people. You think about the numbers, and whether or not you're going to meet Wall Street's expectations."

You can view Wendel Potter's congressional testimony online or read the text.

You can learn more about Remote Area Medical, the organization that put on the "health care expedition" here.

Red-Flagging and Rescission

Among the other testimony heard by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation was that of Robin Beaton. It reflected some of the insurance company tactics condemned by Potter.

It was a nightmare scenario. The day before she was scheduled to undergo a double mastectomy for invasive breast cancer, Robin Beaton's health insurance company informed her that she was "red flagged" and they wouldn't pay for her surgery. The hospital wanted a $30,000 deposit before they would move forward. Beaton had no choice but to forgo the life-saving surgery.

Beaton had dutifully signed up for individual insurance when she retired from nursing to start a small business. She had never missed a payment, but that didn't matter. Blue Cross cited two earlier, unrelated conditions that she hadn't reported to them when signing up — acne and a fast beating heart — and rescinded her policy.

Beaton pleaded with the company and had her doctors write letters on her behalf to no avail. It was not until Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) personally called Blue Cross that her policy was reinstated and she could undergo surgery. In that year, Beaton's tumor doubled in size, leading to further complications necessitating the removal of her lymph glands as well.

>>Watch Robin Beaton's testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

The practice is called "rescission" and Beaton's is not an isolated case. The House Energy and Commerce Committee found that the major private health insurers had rescinded the policies of approximately 20,000 people in a five year period, to avoid paying out approximately $300 million in benefit claims.

Appearing before the same committee, CEOs of the major health insurance companies stated that they would continue to use rescission, arguing that it is a necessary protection against fraud and abuse.

>>Watch the health care CEOs appear before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Wendell Potter
Photo by Robin Holland

Wendell Potter has served since May 2009 as the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin's senior fellow on health care. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, last year he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals.

Based in Philadelphia, Potter provides strategic communications counsel and planning services as an independent consultant. He also speaks out on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the dangers to American democracy and society of the decline of the media as watchdog, which has contributed to the growing and increasingly unchecked influence of corporate PR.

Before his switch, Potter held a variety of positions at CIGNA Corporation over 15 years, serving most recently as head of corporate communications and as the company's chief corporate spokesman.

Prior to joining CIGNA, Potter headed communications at Humana Inc., another large for-profit health insurer and was director of public relations and advertising for The Baptist Health System of East Tennessee. He also has been a partner in an Atlanta public relations firm, a press secretary to a Democratic nominee for governor of Tennessee and a lobbyist in Washington for the organizers of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tenn.

Wendell Potter first worked as a journalist. When fresh out of college, he worked for Scripps-Howard's afternoon paper in Memphis. He wrote about Memphis businesses and local government before being sent to Nashville to cover the governor's office and state legislature. Two years later he was promoted to the Scripps-Howard News Bureau in Washington where he covered Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court and wrote a weekly political column.

Wendell Potter is a native of Tennessee and a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he received a B.A. degree in communications and did postgraduate work in journalism and public relations. He holds an APR, which means he is accredited in public relations by the Public Relations Society of America, and is still a dues-paying member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Press Club in Washington.
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